Deal comes just in time
New 5-year labor agreement OK’d
irving, texas» Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport’s industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.
After days of near round-theclock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3½ hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.
“It’s great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball,” Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said.
In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball said it will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.
As part of the deal, the luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.
Tax rates increase to 20 percent for first offenders, 30 percent for second offenders and 50 percent for third offenders. There also is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold and additional amounts for teams more than $40 million above the threshold.
There will be a new penalty for signing certain free agents that could affect a team’s draft order. There is no change to limits on active rosters, which remain at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on.
Management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, but did get a hard cap on each team’s annual bonus pool for those players.
Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before expiration, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance of expiration in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.
Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players’ association held its annual executive board meeting.
Tony Clark, the first former player to serve as executive director of the union, and others set up in a meeting room within earshot of a children’s choir practicing Christmas carols. A man dressed as Santa Claus waited nearby.
While there were no games to be lost at this point, baseball had faced the prospect of a hold on transactions and other offseason business only hours after the Mets finalized their $110 million, fouryear contract for Yoenis Cespedes.
Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the last a 7 1/2month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 3½ hours before the first game that would have been impacted by a walkout.
Oakland agreed to terms with outfielder Matt Joyce, 32, on an $11 million, two-year contract.
• The Twins signed former Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro to a three-year contract worth $24.5 million.
• The Braves finalized an $11.5 million, two-year contract with utility player Sean Rodriguez.